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Homemade baby food is a fresh alternative to store brands

Monday - 9/9/2013, 8:41am  ET

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Local peaches, like these on display at the Penn Quarter FRESHFARM Market, are a fresh option for babies. (WTOP/Paula Wolfson)

Making fresh, preservative-free baby food

WTOP's Paula Wolfson reports.

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WASHINGTON - When Bernadine Prince goes to a farm market, she sees far more than the season's produce bounty. She sees baby food.

Prince, the co-executive director of FRESHFARM Markets, is actually an old hand at the homemade baby food business. She made it for her children and recently began preparing fresh fruits and vegetables for her new granddaughter, Phoebe Elizabeth.

But something has changed since her own kids were small.

"I was just blending up every single day, I wasn't like planning in advance," Prince says.

Change came with the recent advent of something relatively simple -- big cube ice trays made of silicone and free of suspect chemicals.

Prince now purees fresh food and freezes it in those trays. Once the 2-ounce cubes are solid, she pops them out and puts them in a freezer bag. Each cube is the equivalent of a jar of baby food.

No chemicals are involved, and there is no need for preservatives.

"You have made it beautiful and delicious and not added anything," Prince says.

She says there also is the knowledge that you are buying produce for the baby that is fresh, local and grown with care.

Big, silicone cube ice trays are used to freeze baby food in perfect two-ounce portions. (WTOP/Paula Wolfson)

"I know this farmer. I've visited his farm," Prince says as she eyes some peaches at the Penn Quarter FRESHFARM Market.

"So I know these are grown without any chemicals and are really handled properly, and they are at the peak of perfection to be able to eat or puree into baby food."

It can be a money saver, since a quart of produce can make 12, 2-ounce cubes. And it can be a time saver as well.

Prince says its easy to just peel and puree peaches and nectarines. Vegetables usually need to simmer a bit in a pot of water before they go into the food processor.

Alos, it's convenient for working moms and dads who can build up a whole stash of prepared baby food in their freezer.

Prince says her own time-strapped daughter, a high school teacher in Alexandria, Va., can get her meal planning done just by opening the freezer door.

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